By: Roxane Ramos
In December 2000, the United Nations General Assembly established International Migrants Day, observed on December 18 each year, in recognition of the increasing number of migrants throughout the world and the risks they face. U.N. General Secretary Ban Ki-Moon summarized the intention behind the proclamation in a 2013 address to the General Assembly: “Migration is an expression of the human aspiration for dignity, safety and a better future. It is part of the social fabric, part of our very make-up as a human family.”
The date was chosen in commemoration of the U.N.’s adoption a decade earlier of the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families. More commonly called the Migrant Worker’s Convention or Migrant Rights Convention, this treatise acknowledges the contributions migrants make to the economies and cultures of their adopted homes, and affirms their dignity and human rights, regardless of status. At the KBI comedor, the deported migrants who come for a meal are also treated to an explanation and video about their rights, so often violated by border agents and difficult to assert when faced with the harrowing conditions of detention and deportation. On the world stage, International Migrants Day is, among other things, an occasion to remind national leaders of the critical importance of ratifying and implementing these standards.
Today, there are more than 230 million immigrants worldwide, one tenth of them children under the age of 15. Approximately 60 million of this total are currently displaced and on the move—seeking economic opportunities, attempting to reunite with relatives, or fleeing violence, persecution or natural disaster. This number, higher than at any time since World War II, represents 1 in every 122 people on the planet and is likely to increase. While solidarity with migrants, working toward social justice, and advocating for more humane immigration policies are year-round endeavors, International Migrants Day is an annual reminder of our common humanity and the work that still lies ahead. Here are some ways you can acknowledge this day and support migrants and refugees:
- Make a donation to the KBI (www.kinoborderinitiative.org/get-involved/donate/) or to any of the many organizations offering aid to migrants and refugees.
- Collect clothing, toiletries, and other useful items to donate to aid organizations. (Be sure to contact them to find out what is most needed.)
- Send a message to your legislators via the Jesuit Conference and Jesuit Refugee Service/USA: http://cqrcengage.com/jesuit/app/write-a-letter?0&engagementId=146333&ep=AAAAC2Flc0NpcGhlcjAxdhSLQeef3DXv0NhBsZlge9A42o94f1IPCNEPzr4KteWsEnfNvp5nQeO3kIeIlJrtJuxI8E0cW-7uLDy2q4X-lqiNu7lyxk_7p3ywTbAZLzk&lp=0.
- Read and share the migrant stories included in this newsletter’s article, “Migrant Stories: Two Projects and a Blog.”